Resisting The Tycoon's Seduction Part 1
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Resisting The Tycoon's Seduction.
By Elizabeth Lennox.
"Not that one," the deep voice said firmly. "The black one."
Marissa's hand quickly pulled away from the beautiful, pink lace lingerie set she was considering while she spun around at the same time to find the voice that had intruded on her favorite pastime. "Excuse me?" she said, moments before her eyes focused on the tall, ruggedly dangerous looking man behind her. When she caught sight of him, she couldn't believe her eyes. He was at least six feet, four inches tall with shoulders a linebacker would envy. And he had dark, amused eyes that were laughing down at her for some reason.
Immediately she swung her arms behind her back, trying desperately to hide the other lacy or satin lingerie she'd been about to try on. She couldn't believe she'd been caught in here! Of all the places for someone to approach her, a lingerie shop should definitely not one of them! "Who are you and why in the world would you think I might be even remotely interested in your opinion?" she strangled out, horrified that this man, or any man for that matter, might see the items she might want to purchase.
Zeke Vaughn considered the lovely woman with lush, black hair that curled softly down her back and the furious, soft chocolate eyes. She was trying to appear confident, but he saw the underlying vulnerability. He smiled slightly, noting the blush that stole into her velvety, pale cheeks.
He moved fractionally closer. "I'm going to be your next lover," he replied, and watched in fascination as her eyes widened, her pulse sped up and her breathing increased. Her full, pink lips opened, then closed while she tried to absorb his comment and her reaction turned him on even more than her sexy, slender body.
Had he really said that? "Excuse me?" she huffed, pulling herself up to her full height which still brought her head only up to the top of his shoulder. Marissa was shocked that any man would dare to be so forward. Men simply didn't approach her in general and when they did, it certainly wasn't with a salacious glint to his dark, audacious eyes.
Zeke moved closer, touching her cheek briefly and realizing that the texture was even softer than it appeared. "You heard me, little one. I don't mean to scare you. I was actually going for a completely different effect."
She sputtered, trying to hide her terror of this man and the shivers his nearness was causing inside of her stomach. "I'm not scared! I'm insulted."
Zeke noticed that her breasts were peaked underneath her silk shirt and he couldn't stop his chuckle. "I didn't mean to offend. Just stating the truth," he said and moved even closer, smelling her soft, subtle perfume. It was light and flowery, just like she was. He liked it, he realized. The women he normally dated preferred the heavier, more cloying scents and he never realized how much he disliked them until he had an alternative. "You're very beautiful. And I think I have to change my mind. The pink probably suits you much more than the black lace would." His fingers ran tenderly down her arm, leaving a trail of fire in its wake.
For some reason, the man's attempt to be reassuring only struck her as a challenge. A part of her knew her reaction was a bit irrational but she couldn't stop the words. She squared her shoulders and faced him, pretending that his touch wasn't causing her knees to tremble. "I could pull off the black!" she asserted firmly, her eyes glaring back up at him. She tried to step back, but the table filled with lacy thong underwear stopped her momentum. "And please stop crowding me."
He took the black lace bra off of the stand and handed it to her. "Prove it," he challenged.
Marissa actually took the bra and was about to step towards the dressing rooms when she realized what she was doing. Turning back to him, she shoved the black lace back at him. "No way!"
His arrogant smile cranked up her anger a notch. "See? The pink would be better." And he actually dared to pick that one up and hold it in front of her, his dark eyes looking at the lace as if he were trying to picture her in it. "Definitely the pink," he confirmed. "I can't wait to see the crystal."
Marissa grabbed the pink lace, just trying to get it away from her chest area. Unfortunately, she couldn't hide her curiosity and held the pink lace up so she could understand his last statement. When she realized that there was a dangly crystal that would sparkle right between her breasts, she couldn't help the pink that suffused her cheeks and neck once again. "Leave me alone!" she growled.
With an urgency she hadn't ever felt before, she stepped around the man. Stomping up to the cashier, she dumped all of her items onto the counter, surprising the sophisticated cashier.
Marissa wanted to turn around and glare at the man, but she didn't want him to see her flushed face or the way her body seemed to be tingling because she knew with absolute certainty that he was still watching her. Was he laughing at her?
She almost jumped a foot in the air when a strong, dark hand dropped a pink, lace thong onto the pile. "She'll need that as well," his deep voice said. "Put it all on my account."
Marissa stared at the lace, horrified that she'd kept the pink bra he'd been examining her in. With her mouth hanging open in horror, she tried very hard to come up with a scathing retort, something to bring the man down a peg. Or ten!
Unfortunately, by the time she'd turned around, he wasn't anywhere in the store. She walked to the front, determined to tell him off, but he wasn't even in the hallway. Where had a man of his size disappeared to so quickly?
"Here you go, Ms. Berutelli," the cashier stated softly.
Marissa's head snapped around and saw the huge bag, the top covered in silver tissue paper. With a groan, she stepped back. "I can't take that," she declared emphatically.
The cashier smiled with a twinkle in her eye. "Mr. Vaughn just called a moment ago and told me you'd say that. He instructed me to tell you that if you didn't take the items today, I was to ship them to your house."
Once again, Marissa couldn't help it when her mouth fell open in surprise. And that annoying tingling started up once again, irritating her beyond anything she'd ever experienced. "He actually said that?" she snarled.
The cashier smiled and nodded her head, still holding the large bag.
"What arrogance!" she snapped, but she took the bag and stormed out of the shop. She had planned on spending the whole day here at the stores, spending her father's money on things she didn't need. But the possibility of running into that man again was too appalling so she quickly walked to the exit, tossing the bag onto the passenger seat of her little, black roadster.
Zooming out of the parking lot, she spent the rest of the drive home coming up with several different ways to embarrass that man just like he'd done to her. Unfortunately, she had no idea how to accomplish most of those ideas because she didn't know who the man was, where he lived or what he did for a living.
With a maliciousness she hadn't known she was capable of, Marissa briefly considered telling her father what the man had done. He wouldn't ever allow any man to disrespect her in that manner. But as soon as she thought of the idea, she immediately dismissed it. She would never tell her father about that kind of incident. Mr. Vaughn, or whoever he was, would be dead. Literally. Joe Berutelli wasn't a man to mess with she'd learned over the years.
"What's wrong?" her sister, Sierra, asked as soon as Marissa had dumped her bag in the closet where her father wouldn't be able to see what she'd purchased.
Marissa flung herself on the bed, staring up at the ceiling in exasperation. "I just had an encounter with a man who really...." She wanted to say something horrible, but her sister was only eighteen years old. "He was just a jerk," she finished.
Sierra tossed her book off to the side, moving so her own face blocked her sister's view of the ceiling. "Tell me what happened," she said with mock earnestness.
Marissa wasn't in the mood to play. She was in the mood to hurt someone. Namely, a big, huge brute of a man who had no sense of how to treat a lady. "I just hate men sometimes."
Sierra pulled back and pushed the pillows into a more comfortable position behind her back. "I can't imagine that. Men usually grovel at your feet," she teased, looking at her older sister's beautiful, expressive eyes and her slender figure draped in a white silk shirt and blue wool slacks. She even had a simple pearl necklace around her neck and pearl stud earrings. Marissa was the epitome of class and sophistication which generally intimidated most of the men they encountered.
Of course, most of the men who socialized with her father thought that the thickest gold chain was the gateway to a promotion. That, or whoever came up with the most creative criminal enterprise. Her father seemed to respect both aspects of their culture, an issue which continued to confound both sisters.
Marissa punched the pillow into a more comfortable shape before pushing it behind her back. "This man was simply horrible! I was just shopping by myself and he came right up to me, talking to me as if he..." she wasn't sure how to describe what the man had done. Especially since she didn't really understand it herself. Sierra didn't have any experience with men and Marissa wanted to help keep her innocent for as long as possible. Marissa was almost twenty-five and she didn't want to expose Sierra's sweetness to something so vile as what that man had said to her. "He just said some inappropriate things."
At Sierra's widened eyes, Marissa knew she'd said something her sister could pounce on with relish. Sierra loved romantic novels, was excited about the idea of being swept away by some magnificent, heroic male who would carry her off to an exotic destination where they would love each other continuously and make babies together. That wasn't the real world and, at some point, Sierra was going to have to face reality. But Marissa didn't want that to happen today. Not for a long time, if possible.
Unfortunately, her little sister understood enough to know that her older sister's experience was more exciting than she was letting on. "Oh, please tell me what happened? Was he handsome? Did he have soft, curling hair? Did he touch you and both of you fell instantly in love?" Sierra fell onto the bed, her head next to Marissa's as she sighed with the fantasy she was whirling around in her mind.
Marissa made an inelegant sound and Sierra giggled. "Not even close." She thought back to the man's rugged, dangerous looking face, thinking that he'd probably broken that nose several times over the years. And his cheekbones were high, but they didn't come across as a pretty boy. They were just....tough. Everything about that man told her that he was strong and...wicked. She shivered at the memory of his callused fingers against her cheek. She wasn't feeling excitement, she told herself. It was simply fear. Fear of what the man might do to her if he ever caught her alone. She didn't want that to happen. She'd lived in fear of her father's violence all her life and she was thoroughly sick of it. She wanted a kind man in her life. One who didn't try and intimidate her for no reason!
Thinking about the man certainly wasn't going to push his memory out of her mind. "What did you do today?" she asked her sister, changing the subject and sitting up against one of the posts on her canopy bed.
"School," Sierra replied with a bored sigh. "I just wish Dad would have let me take calculus this term. It would be so much more fascinating than taking yet another literature class. I hate reading. What's the point?"
Marissa laughed softly, knowing her sister's math abilities were nothing short of brilliant. "What was on the agenda today?" she asked.
"Voltaire," Sierra said, shivering with revulsion.
"Voltaire isn't so bad," Marissa came back, smiling at the memory of how much she'd loved reading Candide so many years ago. "He's actually funny occasionally."
Sierra's response was only a roll of her eyes. "Calculus doesn't need to be funny to be interesting," she claimed. They talked about their plans for the future, how Sierra wasn't sure what she wanted to do but she definitely wanted to study something math related. Marissa had her own business, but it wasn't something she could share with anyone but her sister. They'd kept many secrets from their father over the years and would continue to do so as they figured out how to get away from their father's iron control. The only reason Marissa was still living in her father's house was to protect Sierra. Marissa didn't want to consider what their father might do to Sierra if Marissa were to leave. He had a bad temper and took it out on anyone nearby.
Three days later, Marissa stood by the pool, a cool glass of lemonade in her hand as she surveyed the crowd that had come to party at her father's house. She hid the boredom and irritation behind a serene expression, hoping her father wouldn't demand that she interact with any of his cohorts.
"They're all pretty loud, aren't they?" Sierra observed, standing next to her sister with a glass of iced tea. Neither sister drank any kind of alcohol because they'd observed this scene too many times. The men crowded around the bar, each of them vying to get the attention of the many bartenders working any event. The beer and whiskey were poured out like water with each man trying to show the big boss, namely their father, that they could handle their alcohol.
Marissa glanced around the crowd, letting her eyes move over the men without interest. But as her eyes scanned for an escape, they were unexpectedly caught by a tall, dangerous looking man. A man she had prayed never to see again in her life!
And he was staring right back at her. Those dark, mysterious eyes were watching her, causing her to wiggle because she now felt like some sort of bug under a microscope. When his eyes dropped lower, she could sense exactly what he was thinking and she actually hated him for that. When his gaze focused on her chest, she couldn't believe it when she felt her breasts actually tighten, that obnoxious tingling starting up again, even more intense this time around.
"What's going on?" Sierra whispered, her worried eyes looking at her sister's arrested expression. "Tell me what's happening!" she demanded when Marissa just continued to stare at the man.
Marissa heard the panic in her sister's voice and took a deep, calming breath. "Nothing," Marissa finally replied. "Nothing at all." When she was able to pull her gaze away, she realized that her hand was shaking. She put her lemonade down on a table and started walking towards the kitchens, needing an escape from the man's intense and knowing gaze. "I'll be right back," she explained to her sister.
She hurried through the house, eager to get away from this scene. She knew her father would be furious with her, but at this point, she didn't care. She'd deal with his anger later.
She'd just reached for her purse when her cell phone went off. Digging into her purse, she pulled it out while grabbing her keys and walking towards the garage. The party was still going strong as she raced through the living room and glanced down at the window, praying that one of her friends was letting her know of an emergency that would require her attention. But the words she saw on her small screen made her come to a screeching halt.
"You're wearing the pink set aren't you?" she read.
Looking up, she glanced out of the large living room windows, her eyes colliding once again with the one man she was trying to get away from. He was still standing exactly where she'd seen him before, but he was looking directly at her. From her position in the living room, she was actually closer than before and she gasped when he winked at her, the knowing smile coming across loud and clear.
She was glad she was far enough away that he couldn't see the blush spreading across her cheeks. Because yes...she was in fact wearing the pink lace bra and panty set. She actually loved the crystal that was right now dangling between her breasts, making her very aware of her femininity and of the impact this man had on her.
She watched with increasing panic as he walked off of the pool patio and unswervingly through the living room doors. When he was standing directly in front of her, it suddenly occurred to her that she should have run away. Why in the world had she just stood in place while he approached?
"What are you doing here?" she asked. The overwhelming feeling she had around this man seemed to be anger, but there was a very real sense of disappointment that he was doing business with her father.
"Your father invited me."
She wasn't sure what to say, wishing that he would just turn around and walk away from any business ventures with her father. She wanted to urge him to find legal ways of doing business and, more shockingly, she wanted to help him with those legal avenues, keep him from this side of the business.
The overwhelming sadness and disillusionment were threatening to choke her. She had to get away quickly. "Well, I'm sure that you need to hurry off and finish whatever...business, you have with my father. If you'll excuse me," she said, not even bothering to look up at him.
He caught her arm, holding her in place. "What just happened?" he asked softly, looking down into her suddenly sad, brown eyes. "One moment you're ready to tear off my head for being so rude to you, the next you look like you're ready to cry." He stepped closer, his finger coming up to touch her cheek gently.
Marissa wanted to pull back, but he held her firmly. "I just..." her voice cracked and she cleared it before starting over again. "I don't associate with my father's business partners." She tried to pull away again, but he simply shifted his body so she was trapped between his large thighs and the back of the living room sofa. "Please let me go."
"I don't think I can," he murmured, almost to himself. "You're quite beautiful. I'm guessing your father is in some sort of horrible business enterprises of which you don't approve. Is that it?"
Her eyes looked up at his, startled by his question. "Why are you here if you don't know what my father does?"
He shrugged slightly. "Because I met you the other day and wanted to make love to you." He ignored her sharp intake of breath as he continued, "The only way I could figure to do that was to get to know you, show you that I'm not such a horrible guy, prove that I'm a good lover and that I'll satisfy your every need." He said this so softly, his hand reaching up and pushing her dark hair behind her ear and letting his finger caress her earlobe, causing her whole body to shiver with the contact. "I can, you know. And I think we could be very good together."
"You don't know what you're talking about," she whispered, trying to tamp down the terror that was making her tremble so he wouldn't know just how tempting his words sounded to her ears, or how much she suddenly wanted him to touch her again. His large, muscular body was so close, so tempting and she could feel the heat emanating from his thighs and his chest against her own body. She almost swayed closer, wanting to know what he felt like and she had to keep her hands fisted by her sides so she wasn't tempted to reach out and touch him, to discover the texture of his skin. "Please let me pass." She tried to sound firm, but even to her own ears, the command sounded more like a whispered plea.
"I can't do that, love. You're just too tempting." He bent down and kissed the corner of her mouth, enjoyed the feeling of her trembling which told him that she wanted him almost as much as he wanted her. In fact, he'd never been so fascinated by a woman before. Her soft curls teased his nose as he moved his mouth to her earlobe, kissing the sensitive area right below before taking the lobe between his teeth and gently biting down. He smiled when she jumped, but she didn't pull away. In fact, one of her small hands came up and rested against his chest. He suspected it was initially to push him away, but her fingers curled slightly as if she needed to both hold onto him and touch him more firmly.
"Come home with me, Marissa." He kissed her neck, grazing his teeth against her skin before kissing it. He wanted to taste the pulse at the base of her throat, to wrap his hands around her tiny waist and pull her closer, but he sensed her hesitation and didn't want to frighten her any more than what she was already feeling. He didn't want her fear, he wanted her passion.
"Marissa!" a loud, booming voice came from the doorway.
Marissa jumped, quickly extricating herself from this stranger's embrace and took several steps backwards. "Dad, this isn't what you think," she was quick to assure her father who was glaring at the two of them. She actually stood in front of the tall man, her arms pushing him behind her as if she could protect him. "We were just having a conversation."
"About what?" her father demanded, stepping into the living room and looking as if he were in a towering rage. "And where the hell is your sister?" His short, rotund body swiveled as if he suspected that his youngest daughter were hiding somewhere behind a chair. He looked angry, ready to take that anger out on whoever irked him even slightly.
Marissa blinked, not sure how he could have changed the subject so quickly. "Sierra is outside," she came back. "I just left her by the pool."
Joe Berutelli's hands formed fists by his side and Marissa knew this was a very bad sign. "Your sister left the party right behind you. Care to explain what's going on?"
Marissa hadn't been aware of Sierra's departure. In fact, she'd only been aware of this man and the anger, and other feelings that he seemed to invoke inside of her. "Dad, you don't need to worry about this man. I don't even..." she started to say but the stupid man interrupted her.
"I'm Zeke Vaughn," the tall, mysterious man said, stepping around her and extending his hand towards her father. "I appreciate you inviting me on such short notice."
Marissa was amazed at the transformation in her father at the mention of the man's name. It was as if all of his anger had suddenly dissipated for some reason. And this man named Zeke...who was he and how could he contrive to dissolve her father's anger so quickly?
Her father seemed to be positively exuberant now as he shook the taller man's hand with enthusiasm. "Zeke Vaughn! I've heard a great deal about you," her father effused. "Come, let's go into my office and talk. I think we can do a lot of business together."
Zeke glanced back at Marissa, noting the stoic expression that suddenly came over her lovely features. "I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to take a rain check on that discussion," he said, turning back to the man. As Zeke surveyed the man's bloodshot eyes, the spot of blood on his collar and the florid cheeks, things started to fall into place. Zeke had known that Joe Berutelli wasn't a man to mess around with. But now that he was here, and he understood the fear in Marissa's eyes, he found himself trying to figure out how to get her out of the house.
He was being ridiculous, he told himself as he made his excuses and turned to leave. Marissa was twenty-four years old and had survived living with her father for a long time. He was sure that her father wouldn't do anything to hurt her.
But even as he walked out into the summer heat, something niggled in the back of his mind. For the first time in his life, he felt something more than just sexual need for a woman. He had this strange feeling, as if he wanted to protect Marissa. And was that actually possessiveness he was experiencing? He'd never cared if a woman came or went, as long as they were both mutually satisfied with the relationship. But something about the worried look in her eyes, and the relief when he walked out the door, struck a chord inside of him.
Shaking his head, he realized that he was being ridiculous. Marissa was just another woman. A strikingly lovely woman, but merely another luscious, feminine body. They could have a good time together if she would just learn to relax and accept this mind-blowing attraction that they had for each other.
As he pulled the door to his black Jaguar open and slid into the leather seats, he looked back at the house, surprised that he hadn't made the connection between Marissa's father and the infamous Berutelli family before.
"You wanted to speak with me?" Marissa asked as she walked into her father's office. She looked around at the room, surprised to find so many books lining the shelves of his office. This was one room in the house where she was forbidden to enter unless she was called in here by her father. All other times, she was to stay away. The office was even separated from the main house by a long hallway with a separate entrance to the garage and outside. Her father could come and go from the house without her or Sierra ever knowing. He was a very secretive man. Marissa had seen people coming and going from this room often over the years, always wondering what happened behind these heavy doors.
She stood awkwardly in front of her father's desk, waiting for him to acknowledge her.
Did she really want to hear what he had to say? She knew who her father was and what he did. She should probably take a more active role in discovering evidence of his criminal activities, but in truth, her father terrified her. She knew what he was capable of. She knew that some of the men who had worked for him in the past had simply disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. She didn't know if they'd died or gone into witness protection, but she didn't want to find out either.
She was a coward.
But that didn't mean she was stupid. Despite her father's control, she'd gotten an education. He'd wanted her to study literature and history and she'd signed up for all of those classes, but she'd also studied computers and technology and she was pretty good at it. She continued to expand her knowledge of web and graphic design, enjoying creating web sites for her friends' businesses. She wasn't going to be rich, she knew, but she was actually doing a pretty good business for herself. She could be bigger, but she had to work on these projects without her father's knowledge. She wasn't sure if he would forbid her to do the work, or if he would use her business for his own criminal activities. Either way, she wasn't giving him any opportunity to step in and corrupt her work. She pretended to continue with her frivolous lifestyle by shopping and going to lunch with her friends and cousins, but many of those lunches were business meetings.
She even paid taxes on her income! Oh, her father be furious with her for that! She almost laughed as she stood in front of her father's massive, ornate desk, impatiently shifting from one foot to the next as the silence continued.
After several minutes, he threw down his pen and leaned back in his large, leather chair. She suspected that he'd purchased that particular chair with the high back and the sides that came out slightly as a symbolic "I'm a king" message to the people who stood nervously in front of this desk. It certainly had the lines of a throne and she'd noticed several television trying to convey the same image.
She refused to squirm under his steady gaze, waiting patiently for him to convey the reason for his unexpected, cryptic summons so she could get back to her room and finish her work. She had several clients that were waiting on her to finish up their projects and she didn't like to postpone a deadline. She prided herself on meeting every deadline she set with her clients.
Resisting The Tycoon's Seduction Part 1
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Resisting The Tycoon's Seduction Part 1 summary
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